South Korea military to lower bar for active duty conscripts amid population decline

This photo provided by South Korea's Marine Corps shows reconnaissance soldiers marching in a group. (Yonhap)

This photo provided by South Korea’s Marine Corps shows reconnaissance soldiers marching in a group. (Yonhap)

Seoul: The South Korean military said Sunday it plans to lower the bar for the conscription of active duty soldiers, as the country’s population is widely expected to shrink drastically.

The Ministry of National Defense and the Military Manpower Administration are currently in the process of revising related regulations to lower the physical requirements and standards for active duty troops.

The measure under review comes amid a precipitate fall in the country’s population. The phenomenon is likely to drastically cut the number of men in their 20s to less than 250,000 after 2022, compared to some 350,000 as of 2017, leaving far fewer able-bodied young men eligible for the mandatory military service.

“The Military Manpower Administration and other related bodies predict a major problem in securing manpower (for active duty troops) from around 2021. They plan to revise (the conscription standards) next year,” a government official said.

Under the revised plan, the government will use a new set of medical standards that are less strict than those currently applied, such as those on body mass index and high blood pressure.

The new standards are likely to be finalized in early 2021, and the military will continue to take steps to gradually further loosen the requirements, according to the official.

The government expects the new plan will help it better obtain the active duty soldiers it needs to maintain the armed forces.


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